The sounds of her footsteps echoed in the large empty halls of Uldaman. Her last mechagnome compatriot had succumb to the curse of the flesh and passed away almost a decade ago. She’d not expected to last this long on her own. In spite of her isolation, she did not feel alone. The earthen here, asleep, but alive, and the keepers. Even though they all slept, she still felt that they were with her.
She patrolled the halls, everyday maintaining the same maintenance protocols, another day, no news or updates. She rounded a corner, and suddenly halted. There stood another gnome. Not just any gnome. It was herself. Shocked, she couldn’t react for a moment. The other gnome with her face was looked up from a glowing pocket watch. “Oh there you are! I came to watch but I think I am here too…” the doppelganger spoke quick and vanished quicker. Gone.
Over the next few days she continued her rounds, but she’d been shaken. The appearance of that strange other gnome. Had her brain begun to fail her so badly? An unease crept into her mind. Perhaps something was wrong, that could explain the phenomenon she’d encountered. She began to expand her maintenance routines. Something had to be wrong somewhere. Everyday, instead of doing the same checks, her inspections would push deeper. There had to be an explanation.
Slowly her investigations began to reveal something. The earthen were not as well preserved as they should have been. The curse of flesh was corrupting them more than should be possible in their slumber. What could be the cause? She ran weeks of in depth diagnostics. Her routine of the same thing every day melted away. Now everyday was something different. Chasing after a ghost in the machine that had caused the disruption.
Finally she found it. Low power? It couldn’t be low power. The arcane matrix that sustained this facility was powered by directly from the leylines of Azeroth. This site had been chosen because it was a nexus where they could tap into the energies of the entire planet. There was no way this could be happening.
At a lack for answers, she did something she hadn’t done in centuries. She walked to the entrance and took the elevator up to the surface. She’d not seen the sky in so long. It took her eyes a while to adjust, but then she saw it. When Uldaman had been constructed, the area and been lush and forested. Her eyes were not met with the landscape she remembered, it had been transformed into a baked barren wasteland. Her heart fell. The layline must have shifted, or the collectors had been compromised somehow, or… who could know? Instead of taking energy from the whole of the world, it was draining it from just the local area. It was more than the land could sustain. There machines had soaked all the life energy here, killing almost everything, and having done so, it was now run dry. The facility had ruined the entire area, and for what? Now there was nothing left to sustain the beings inside it was designed to save.
This meant so many things. The gnomes that had left so long ago had surely perished. She and the earthen would be next as this land would not be able to support them much longer. She took the elevator down and began running through the halls. She had to get the keepers to awaken. They would know what to do. They would have to…
She crashed into something, no someone. Her double had returned.
“Ow, sorry. I didn’t mean to get in your way. I think I’m much closer to when I need to be, oops! Here let me help you up. I’m not supposed to interfere, but since I already knocked you down.” It didn’t quite sound like her. Of course, it had been along time since she’d said anything so she wasn’t sure. “Please continue what you’re doing. I am close now to…” the other gnome turned a dial on her pocket watch and disappeared again.
She stood there stunned for a moment. That had to have happened. It was physical, she’d touched it, but what was it? Why did it look just like her? She pushed those questions out of her mind. They were a distraction. There was a real pressing problem that she had to address. The keepers were needed.
Why? They had locked themselves in their vaults, WHY? For days she tried to open them with no progress. Now she just sat in front of the door. Maintenance didn’t matter. The facility was failing, there was nothing to do to stop it. The magnitude of the failure was more than could possibly be reversed. For days she didn’t move, until the other appeared again. “the incident, that I think I can collect the information I need. You probably have a millions questions. I’m not supposed to say much, but I know you are an archivist. you could say we both have an interest in preserving history. Sorry I look just like you. We’re supposed to approximate the average appearance of the locals, but you’re the only one here.” the other gnome then giggled, and then flushed, “I’m not laughing at you being alone, or the way that you look, I actually quick like it.” She held out her arms admiring herself. “hang on, this isn’t the right room.” She pulled out the pocket watch and disappeared again.
Alone again. She stood up, and began to walk slowly. For the first time since she could remember she was going nowhere. Everything was so wrong. The need to do something was driving her forward, but the lack of information left her directionless. More information, that’s what she needed. She went back to the deep diagnostics she’d done and began to pour over them. There had to be some useful information in there, something that would give her a clue to answer.
Days were spent, she reviewed every scrap of information in the archives, she looked at measurements from the facilities matrix. Nothing. Nothing that could revert what had happened. Something occurred to her. She when back to the records from when the rebel gnomes had left. Something one of them had said was in the archives. “We spend all our time preserving the past, when do we begin to build a future?”
She new what she would have to do. She went to the facilities main interface station. She pulled up the status information. Some of the earthen were in much better shape than the others. She would divert the power from those that were in the worst shape and use it to awaken the others. They had the best chance to survive in the badlands the area around them had become. The others might awaken from their slumber when the machines powered off, but they had already changed so much, it might be a mercy if they never awoke.
Finally she had set-up the sequences. The last thing to do was to activate. She hesitated. The facility was the only thing keeping her alive at this point. Awakening the earthen would result in a complete shut down. Looking down on her hands. Slowly she pressed them together. They were so different now from the strong metallic bronze hands she had been created with. That seemed like millennia ago. All the others had passed on. She new that it would only be a matter of time for herself as well. She silently cursed that they had not discovered the flaws earlier, soon enough to do something about it. The past was as ever set in stone though. It was not their place to deal in ‘what ifs’. Directly manufacturing her own destruction was counter to everything in her, but at this stage her own end was already assured. Theirs was not. Finally she took a deep breath and began the sequence.
Almost immediately after she began to feel the energy drain out of her body. Listing to the sounds of activity echo through those halls that had been silent for so long was like a breath of fresh air. She laid back and closed her eyes only to be surprised by a flash. That other gnome had returned. It was still rambling on as it had every time she had seen it. She could only make out a few of the words she was saying, “…Your name… please… just tell me your name…”
No name came forth. Her eyelids were impossibly heavy and closed again on their own accord. She felt a hand lightly rest on her shoulder, and as all sensation faded away she hear one last thing from her strange guest, “…If I can’t tell the world your name; I can at least show them your face.”